Football

Jessica Ennis-Hill favourite to win SPOTY while Joe Root misses out on shortlist

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Jessica Ennis-Hill leads the betting for the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year, but eyebrows have been raised about the omission from the shortlist of another Sheffield star.

Winning heptathlon gold at World Championships in Beijing has put Ennis-Hill in the favourite's seat for the award, which will be given out on December 20.

An initial list of 10 was bumped up to a dozen when Tyson Fury and Andy Murray gatecrashed with their weekend heroics, but there was no place on the list for Joe Root.

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The England cricketer - who went to the same school as Ennis-Hill - is the number-one Test batsman in the world and scored 460 runs to win man of the series as the Ashes were regained this summer.

The selection panel did not deem Root worthy of a nomination, though, which has caused concern amongst cricket fans.

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A man-of-the-series award was enough for Andrew Flintoff to win the BBC prize in 2005, while England cricketers have been nominated following Ashes wins in 2009, 2011 and 2013.

"Joe Root had such a good year, being named man of the series in an Ashes victory and breaking the calendar-year record for most runs scored for England," Barmy Army spokesperson Matt Nichols told Press Association Sport.

"It is a bit concerning, especially in an Ashes year, for him not to be up there.

"It's difficult to say why he was left out, and also Stuart Broad, who produced one of the best pieces of bowling at Trent Bridge when Australia were bowled out for 60.

"It's a bit disappointing (Root) didn't get recognition but he's a once-in-a-generation player and he will be up there eventually."

Paralympic, World and European champion Hannah Cockroft also questioned the lack of nominees from disability sports.

Pushing the case of wheelchair tennis player Jordanne Whiley and sprinter Richard Whithead, she said on Twitter: "12 nominees & not one of them in disability sport? Didnt expected my name on #SPOTY shortlist this year but others have been overlooked.

The nominees for this year's award were decided by three members from BBC Sport, TV pundit Jermaine Jenas, broadcaster Hazel Irvine, former award nominees Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Maggie Alphonsi and Dame Mary Peters, the chair of the youth sport trust Baroness Sue Campbell and a representative from national newspapers the Guardian, the Sun and the Times.

There are two other contenders who enjoyed track and field success at the World Championships. One is Mo Farah, who secured a unique 'treble double' in distance running having won golds in both 5,000 metres and 10,000m at two World Championships and the Olympics.

The other is Greg Rutherford, the long-jump world champion who became only the fifth British athlete to hold Olympic, Commonwealth, European and world titles at the same time.

Last year's winner of the BBC award, Lewis Hamilton, is also shortlisted again after successfully defending his Formula One world champion title.

Tour de France winner Chris Froome is nominated, as is fellow cyclist Lizzie Armitstead, who won the UCI World Road Championship.

Lucy Bronze, the defender who helped England Women's football team to third place in the World Cup and was shortlisted for the player of the tournament, is also nominated. So too is Kevin Sinfield, who retired from rugby league after an extraordinary career - including winning the Challenge Cup, League Leaders' Shield and the Super League title in his final season - before switching codes to union.

The final contenders are Adam Peaty, who became the first British swimmer to win three gold medals at a single World Championships, and Max Whitlock, who ended Britain's 112-year wait for a men's gold medallist at the World Gymnastics Championships.

The panel met in mid-November and agreed that significant sporting events taking place after that meeting but before the shortlist was announced should be taken into consideration.

The winner will be decided by a public vote and announced at a live event from Belfast on Sunday, December 20.

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